Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.
What is your name and title?
Carrie Kwan, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Mums & Co.
Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.
As the Co-Founder and MD of Mums & Co, the movement empowering Australian business-owning mothers, I am a community leader, Mumbition Ambassador, commentator and mentor. With a focus on networking and upskilling, we equip working mums with the resources, emotional support and introductions to achieve their personal and business goals.
How did you get here? Please share any quick stories from past work experiences.
I started Mums & Co when I was pregnant in 2016, backed by Australia’s largest general insurer IAG, to create a safe online space for business-owning mums. I fit the bill, partly because I had successfully founded and grown the popular digital lifestyle guide, Daily Addict, partly because I was passionate about mentoring female business owners in the early days of their business journey.
In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?
I recognised that to be a successful business owner, learning the craft of pitching your business was a fundamental skill. I started my career in marketing and PR, so I understand the importance of leveraging brand exposure, the media and partnerships to share the important work we do.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this past year?
At Mums & Co we call it “Digital Serendipity”. It’s achieved by using online introductions and networks to connect with people you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. This works well for so many women working from home, running their own businesses and juggling motherhood. Networking is so valuable but COVID has limited the chances to increase the size of your professional network. We need to embrace digital serendipity opportunities to find spontaneous connections, knowledge sharing and creativity.
What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?
Women shouldn’t have to choose between their families and their careers, however, the competing modes and time pressures of the equally demanding tasks of motherhood and business ownership are undeniably challenging. I’ve learnt to rely on routines and rituals and identify transferable skills in managing business and home life. I’ve learnt to ask for help and recognise the important role men, my family and my support network play.
Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you?
I’ve had the fortune of some great mentors that have helped me along the way. Mentorship is a two-way street and a great mentor partnership allows both parties to contribute and continuously learn. Business-owning mothers are passionate about their product or purpose, but are not necessarily experienced in marketing and business operations. Mentorship can provide the helping hand they need to achieve their goals. At Mums & Co we have 35 experts that our members can access for immediate help, and to grow and learn.
What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?
It is challenging and scary to establish a new business and it takes courage and determination to do so. You are unsure of the market, reception to your product and what lies ahead. I would like to say to aspiring business mums that you don’t have to choose between career and family, and just go for it! At Mums & Co, we label it mumbition: the unapologetic blending of motherhood and ambition.
What is one thing companies can do, big or small, to help create an environment that advances women into leadership positions?
A Mums in Business research report completed by EY Sweeny for Mums & Co found that flexibility was a key motivation for Australian mothers to consider alternatives to a corporate career and start their own business. Companies need to drive change around flexible working arrangement and entitlements, eliminate the culture of parental guilt, address childcare and other care responsibilities, and dissolve the gender pay gap.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish in the next year?
We are excited for the return of our annual Be MPowered conference on 2 June, this year with a new format set to lead the future of events. The hybrid face-to-face and digital conference is specifically designed to suit working mothers and will be broadcast nationally in real-time.
Is there a cause that is particularly close to you? If so, why this cause and how did you get involved?
At Mums & Co we advocate for women to harmonise their ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. We promote self-care and confidence to help women feel empowered and practice kindness and positivity as a mindset to achieve wellbeing.
When did your company join Pledge 1%? What does your impact program mean to you?
Since April 2018 if I recall correctly. Paying it forward has been ingrained as a way of being since my teen years and has echoed throughout my two businesses and pro bono mentoring work.
At Mums & Co, our team make their domain expertise available to small business owners through brief coaching sessions – we know that the vast majority of these women doing incredible work don’t have the dedicated support of big teams. We work hard every day to advocate for her specific needs and strongly believe that we all have a duty to make our families and communities stronger, and impact lives in positive way.
What do you like to do outside of the office? Any interesting (or unique) habits or interests?
If I have an opportunity for some time to myself, I love a good spa or massage. I enjoy skipping and have this routine that I do in my head involving a combination of speedy cross-overs. If I’m spending time with my family you’ll find us beach-combing for our shell collection jar. My youngest (4.y.o) loves doing our local trail walk together.
Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!
I recently started reading Maternal Optimism by US academics Jamie Ladge and Danna Greenberg. It’s filled with research and stories that support the notion of women owning and feeling confident in the choices they make, as they navigate a complex series of work and family transition. The Founder Coach with Dave Bailey podcast has some great interviews and insights I’ve found useful as a founder.
What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?
During COVID, Mums & Co moved from about 75% digital to 100% digital. We introduced a Chatbot feature and monthly online events, like ‘Practice your Pitch’ and small-group member meet-ups. Many business mums work from home, work on their own, or have flexible work arrangements, so it’s important to find ways to stay connected, feel supported and build confidence.
All Pledge 1% members are warmly invited to join Mums & Co and experience the networking and business features via our free 14-day trial, it only takes a minute to sign up via www.mumsandco.com.au.